Thursday, April 24, 2008

I saw you leaving.

This little angel is a kangaroo rat, specific to San Bernardino and Riverside counties in southern California. The kangaroo rat subsists on seeds and lives in brush along riverbanks and creeks. It helps redistribute plantlife after floods by disseminating seeds throughout its habitat.

But guess what? Its habitat is shrinking very quickly. Over 30,000 acres of land were designated several years ago as critical to the kangaroo rat's survival, but now the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, under the tutelage the Marmoset Brigade, is proposing to slash this creature's protected habitat to under 11,000 acres.

SAN BERNARDINO, CA — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday proposed a dramatic reduction in habitat designated as critical for the survival of the charismatic and declining San Bernardino kangaroo rat. The proposal would designate a total of only 10,658 acres of habitat, a 68-percent reduction from the current designation of 33,295 acres.
Now, I've spent plenty of time in San Bernardino county. My first trek into this desert region took place in 2000 when I was hijacked by several friends into camping in Joshua Tree National Park. My friends fed-exed me a plane ticket to Ontario Airort, and since I had never been to Los Angeles at that point, I thought we were going to spend a madcap weekend rolling around and hobnobbing with celebrities in that glamorous city. As my friends drove in the opposite direction from civilization, my heart sank - we were not going to be bumping into Paul Rudd any time soon. Worse, we eventually pulled into a K-Mart out in the middle of nowhere and purchased several sleeping bags.

A bad sign if ever there was one.

All the while, we were driving through desolation. Civilization came in small and widely separated patches, and consisted mainly of a gas station / convenience store, a few ramshackle huts most likely occupied by meth lab technicians, and one or two homesteads.

We drove through the quaint, tiny town of Twentynine Palms and reached our destination. The park was a gorgeous, vast expanse of rust-colored rock jutting up from the brush-covered earth, Joshua Trees hapazardly and majestically sprinkling across the landscape. Although my time there was brief, it was a memory I will keep forever.

Now, I moved to Los Angeles in 2006 and on my first day in town, I dumped my shit off and drove to Twentynine Palms. The drive was completely different. Civilization has encroached in a devastating way - the roadside is no longer the romantic desert landscape of yesteryear. Instead, it is a vision of doom featuring automobile dealerships, casinos, outlet malls, Wal-Marts, subdivisions of little to no personality, and water parks. Yes, water parks in the fucking desert.

And then there's Twentynine Palms itself. Still a charming town, but its population has boomed from 11,000 to 28,000. Its main road is mostly hotels. It has a golf course with bright green, lush grass. My first reaction to this sight was utter and complete disgust. If you want to play golf - play it where there's fucking grass. Don't build a golf course out in the god damn desert and expect to keep it green - I mean, what is wrong with you people?

The water it takes to maintain the grass in this fucking golf course is staggering, and locals complain that the watering of this golf course (along with several new residents' lawns) has changed the humidity of the area. They say they can no longer rely on ventilation itself to keep cool. They now want air conditioners, because they're sweating more now than they were before. A lot of people who moved to this area years ago were HAPPY that they never had to use air conditioners.

Why am I blathering about this? Because all of this demonstrates what's going on in the desert. What once was completely devoid of human life - a shunned, arid hell - is now a trendy spot for a second home. And as humans do best, we're destroying the homes of others in the process.

We're fucking up enough unprotected land. We NEED to protect some land from human encroachment if only to have a reminder of what this shit used to look like before we decided to put Wal-Marts on it.

And regardless of how necessary people think it is to build a new subdivision in Death Valley, we need to save land for other species, especially ones whose very existence we have already endangered. Because, as we all know, most animals on the endangered species list are endangered because of one thing - people.

My problem in discussing the plight of the kangaroo rat is the simple fact that if you tell the average person that a variety of rat is teetering on the verge of extinction due solely to the selfishness and short-sightedness of man, their response will generally be either, "Ew, I hate rats" or "so what?"

Now, here's the thing. Man is not in charge of the planet, despite the fact the we think we are. These animals - all of them - they have every right to be here, and we, as the "thinking" species, have a responsibility to ensure their continued survival.

Imagine how boring this place is going to be when they're gone.

You can read more about the kangaroo rat's current situation here.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A divine video about aye-ayes.

Vaya Con Dios, Vaquita

The Vaquita is the world's smallest porpoise, the same size as but much cuter than a pre-teen human.

Vaquita means "little cow" in Spanish and I think these things are just adorable.

This is one of the only photos ever taken of a live Vaquita porpoise.

That's because they're so rare that no one can ever find them, unless they wash up on a beach or are trapped in some dickfucker's fishing nets. There are tons of photos of dead vaquitas.

Guess how many of these precious little angels there are left in the world? Researchers don't know because the only ones they ever find are dead. Scientists have estimated in the recent past that approximately 200-300 are around, but up to 40 die every year in fishing nets. So who can say? It has been suggested that they are the most critically endangered animals in the world.

They are local to a portion of the Gulf of California. Conservation efforts are being made, but net fishing continues, and so the perils of the Vaquita are far from over.

Will they join the Yangtze River Dolphin in the MMEG (Marine Mammal Extinction Gang), or will people wise up? Let's hope it's the latter.

Read more about their continued issues here.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Does he think we're dumb or something?

I don't know which is scarier - George W. Bush doing nothing about the environment, as he has for the past seven years, or George W. Bush trying to save whatever shreds of dignity could ever possibly be salvaged from his abortion of a Presidency by all of a sudden pretending to care about the environment.

Either way, we're still the losers.

Simian-in-chief took minutes away from his Pablum to deliver a "global warming address" in the rose garden of the White House. Finally, Droolcup Jones has admitted that global warming is a reality. But, what does he propose we do about it? Pretty much nothing.

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Bush acknowledged that climate change is a problem but called for a slow approach to dealing with it that wouldn't raise taxes, burden American businesses or be run by judges working off the Clean Air Act, which he says wasn't meant to address climate change.
American businesses HAVE to assume burden during this process, or we won't be changing anything, moron.
He offered no new initiatives to cut the emissions. Instead, he spoke of an "economy-wide strategy that builds on the solid foundation that we have in place," such as recently passed legislation that raises auto fuel-economy standards to 35 miles per gallon by 2020 as well as tax incentives for private research and new technology to attack the problem.
The foundation that we have in place does NOT address global warming. That's why it needs to change.
A consensus report last year by more than 2,000 scientists from around the world called for stronger measures to slow the long-term accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that to prevent average global temperatures from rising more than 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit — the level it set as a danger zone — global emissions would have to peak by 2015 and decline to as little as 15 percent of 2000 levels by 2050. The panel is affiliated with the United Nations.

To keep temperatures from rising above 3.5 degrees, the panel said, industrialized countries would need to reduce emissions by 25 percent to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The European Union has recommended doing that.

Bush's goal would allow emissions to be 28 percent above 1990 levels in 2025, according to calculations made by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, that are based on U.S. government projections data.

"In his eighth year, the president has just proposed a path on global warming weaker than the campaign pledge he made in September 2000 and broke three months into office," said Frances Beinecke, the council's president. "Not content with blocking action over the last eight years, this president is trying to lock in pollution growth for the next 15."
As the governments of the world convened at yet another pointless "climate change" talk that will ultimately resolve nothing, George W. Bush's plan was almost unanimously assaulted as thoroughly worthless.
"The president gave a disappointing speech," German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement issued in Berlin headlined "Gabriel criticizes Bush's Neanderthal speech. Losership, not Leadership".
We've had at least three major "climate change" panels in the past year, all of which have been almost detrimentally derailed because of the United States' continued efforts to stop progress.

He has undermined the Environmental Protection Agency's ability to do its job, defying the Supreme Court in the process. He's chipped away at the Endangered Species Act. He's determined to rape what little pristine land we have left for some project or another. Basically, he just plain sucks.

And through his "global warming address," he's proven once again that he cares more about money than he does about you, me, the little fluffy clouds, babbling brooks, bunnies, kittens, ponies, ducks, or frogs.

Well, thank goodness his time's almost up. He can come up with all the little gaywad, ineffectual plans he wants - it is of little consequence.

No matter which of the three candidates gets elected, it is a confirmed fact that they are committed to curbing global warming. Even Mr. "Clean Coal" McCain's environmental stance is remarkably more liberal than Mr. Chimpy's.

So give him the boot and bring on someone who actually gives a damn. Nice try, Dribbles, but we all see right through you.

Friday, April 11, 2008

We Are Doomed - Case No. 738

Something that has bothered me for quite some time is New Yorkers' addiction to bags. Paper, plastic - we love our sacks in this here city. 

Go to any deli and buy whatever - bleach, cookies, an air freshener - and they will cram it into a bag. If you buy foodstuffs, they'll cram them into a bag and give you a stack of napkins that could service a family of four for up to two weeks. And on top of that - in more cases than you would think, the clerks will double-bag - yes, I said double-bag - for absolutely no reason at all. If you buy a Bic lighter, some asshole will try to put it in two plastic bags if you're not careful. 

Why? What's the significance? I don't know. What I do know is that it's a stupid and wasteful act that must be shunned, and actively so, if we're to make any progress as a society.

Soda, bottled water, orange juice, that ludicrous Vitamin Water bullshit, all of those foul, syrupy "Iced Tea" concoctions that are favorable with buffoons - they're already in containers. If a bottle or container of liquid is all you're purchasing, you DO NOT need a bag! You just don't. Why put a sealed container into a container? You've got hands. Carry the god damn bottle. 

It is an unfortunate fact, however, that most people request bags for their bottles, and generally get the aforementioned stack of napkins along with them. How long does the normal bodega patron use the bag in which his or her bottle or container of beverage was placed? Generally the time it takes for them to get from the checkout counter to the outside of the store, at which point they open the bottled liquid and discard the bag. 

And we now have one more god damn plastic bag littering the planet, all because some dumb dipshit didn't make the extra effort to say, "No thank you, I don't need a bag."

I have been making an effort to be a nicer person. After seeing my mother in action when she visited recently - insulting every single living being for some reason or another as they walked by, just trying to get through their day - I realized that if I didn't temper my need to sling invective at unsuspecting strangers for any number of offenses from their clownish hip hop clothing to their BMI and its associated effect on my eyes, I would end up a cranky old bastard with whom no one wanted to associate. That is not necessarily what I want for myself, so I'm trying really hard - REALLY, REALLY HARD - to be nicer, at least outwardly.

It's not working very well. 

This morning, I witnessed a teenaged girl coming out of a grocer's on Dekalb Avenue with a paper bag, the contents of which she had clearly just purchased. She proceeded to take a container of apple juice out of the bag and toss the used sack into the garbage. That bag was used for a total of three seconds. Counter to doorway. And this was a teenager - a member of the generation that is supposed to be taking recycling for granted. 

I was compelled to grab her and tell her that her lowrider jeans made her look like a slut and that no girl on her way to high school should be dressed in such a suggestive manner. Oh, and to lecture her about waste and how if she didn't shape up her act she was going to be raising her babies in a land of desolation and horror, devoid of the beauty we seem to think is going to stay around despite our biggest efforts to the contrary. 

I also felt the need to take that bag out of the garbage and recycle it. But I can't take on that level of responsibility. If I started, I would never stop. And I would go insane. Paper is wasted in this city in such ludicrous and vast amounts that it is staggering. 

And plastic - well, those plastic bags are everywhere, and they'll never go away. The trees here are a testament to the disgrace that comes from improper disposal of plastic bags. Look up when you're walking sometime and you'll see what I mean.

So this is my mantra for the day - Choose Your Sacks With Care. Repeat it until it is emblazened in your brain. 

Saving a sack today will save a tree tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Plight of the Lorax

Who remembers this book?

Dr. Seuss wasn't fucking around when he wrote this one. It was highly prophetic, and it should be getting a hell of a lot more attention these days than it does.

Instead, we have dreadful Hollywood film versions of once-classic Seuss tales that feature professionally annoying slot slappers like Mike Myers and Jim Carrey. These films were created specifically for mass consumption, and spawned mega-marketing and licensing campaigns. The world gained nothing but more plastic crap and bastardized versions of great children's literature.

Random House and the Seuss Estate - how about promoting this book instead - one that will teach children a valuable lesson? Earth Day's coming up. You should be passing this out to kids all over the country.

Instead of prompting them to get a Happy Meal with a Made In China plastic toy, teach them that some resources, regardless of what anyone may tell you, just aren't renewable.

This book petrified me when I was a child - and back then, most of us didn't even know what deforestation WAS.

Now that I know better, I feel like the Lorax sometimes.

People think I'm crazy when I scream about the shrinking rain forests of the world. Some people have actually said to me, "Oh, I don't care about that" when I tell them that environmental health is one of my prime concerns. While my first reaction is to hammer their heads in, I just bite my tongue and back away, noting that the person guilty of uttering such inanity is not worth my attention. Ever again.

It's all spelled out in The Lorax. Even Republicans can understand the simple text and colorful pictures. George W. Bush - Marmoset Number One - he might even get it.

When we were kids, the Lorax's plight seemed far-off, maybe even fictional. Now that kids are witnessing it happening, they need to know that they can actually do something about it.

As Whitney Houston said, "I believe the children are our future." And as our future, they need to be aware of what's going on here before they have nothing but pavement and corrosion and desolation. The Lorax can help them.

Every kid should read it.

Part Two of The Lorax

Part Three of The Lorax

Part Four of The Lorax

Part Five of The Lorax

Part Six of The Lorax

(FYI - no, the irony is not lost on Ye Olde Pompous Vegan that this anti-deforestation/big industry book is printed on what must be multitudes of former forests. What're you gonna do. It we're lucky, they've got the common sense to print this title on recycled paper at this point.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Earth Day is Fast Upon Us!

April 22nd is Earth Day!

Let's all celebrate by getting despondently depressed as the elected officials of the world continue to do absolutely nothing to save the rain forests, animals, water, trees, life of our planet!

Yay Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Look at this precious little angel.

The more I read about Madagascar, the more I realize that this place must be 100% awesome. Now, it is a sad fact that 90% - yes, you read that correctly- NINETY PERCENT of their rain forests have been decimated in favor of mostly ill-fated rice paddies and coconut palm plantations, leaving soil erosion and desolation in the place of once-gorgeous and unique landscapes - but the small portion of natural habitat that remains is jammed full of the most intriguing creatures you'll ever happen upon. Much like Australia, Madagascar is host to many unusual animals, and new species are being discovered there on a regular basis.

This little yellow number is called a Streaked Tenrec, and I think he's an angel sent straight down from heaven. Look how tiny that thing is. This little fella is nocturnal and roots around in the dirt for earthworms and such.

I want to touch one.